Not dead yet

Yesterday's blog post was about the young who want to be involved in Philadelphia. Today's post is about older people who desperately want to stay involved by being employed. The studies show that 55+ workers have managed to hang onto more of their jobs in this recession, but when they lose those jobs, their chances of being reemployed quickly, or even at all, diminish rapidly. So here are two aspects of this -- one is news of job fair for the 55+ being held next week in Bucks County. The other is the story of a 74-year-old, a longtime employee of a company who was informed of a new policy mandating involuntary retirement at age 67, while he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. 

First the job fair: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bensalem Senior Center, 1850 Byberry Road, Bensalem on Tuesday, October 5. Sponsored by Bucks County Area Agency on Aging, Bucks County Senior Coalition and the Pennsylvania CareerLink in Bucks County. Free for jobseekers and lunch will be served.   

Next: On Tuesday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit against Asian World of Marital Arts Inc. in Northeast Philadelphia, a wholesaler and retailer of boxing and martial arts supplies -- the "leader in human contact sports." 

The case, filed in federal court in Philadelphia, lays out the story of Morris Pashko, born June 13, 1933, who began work at Martial Arts Inc. in 1981 as its controller, responsible for bookkeeping, accounting and the usual bean counter activities.

He was 48 at the time. On Nov. 14, 2007, while in the hospital recuperating from surgery, the lawsuit said, he received a notification from his boss, company founder and president Georgette Ciukurescu, that the company had instituted a mandatory retirement age of 67 and that he would have to go, effective Dec. 1. The other bad news? Pashko would have to find new health insurance by then.

I called the company this morning. Georgette Ciukurescu wasn't in, but her brother Steven was. He said he was aware of the pending litigation, but had no comment. He promised to have someone call me later.

The EEOC says that mandatory retirement ages are not acceptable under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Of course, these rules do not apply to certain jobs, such as airline pilots, where some physical attributes of aging interfere with the performance of the job. Click here to read the press release.

The lawsuit said Pashko was an exemplary employee. Maybe the company had a different view.

Three questions: Will any of us ever get to retire in this economy? How will companies handle those sticky situations when older workers hang on beyond their ability to perform their work? And how will there be opportunity for the younger folks?